9853

A VERY FINE PAIR OF ‘TALC’ SCULPTÉE OVAL FLORAL RELIEFS

Possibly French. Late Eighteenth Or Early Nineteenth Century. The Faux Painted And Convex Glass Mounted Frames Second Quarter Of The Nineteenth Century.

Measurements

Sight size: Height: 19 3/4" (50cm); Width: 13 3/4" (35cm). Framed: Height: 25 1/4" (64 cm); Width: 19 3/4" (50cm); Depth: 3" (7.5 cm).

Research
Of white and blue painted talc sculptée. Each oval relief is centered by a white painted naturalistically modeled floral spray, on a greyish-blue ground. The molded wood frames painted as faux oak. Each fitted with an oval convex protective glass.

These unusual, exquisitely detailed reliefs are in a type of medium referred to in late-eighteenth century France as ‘talc sculptée.’ It is assumed that the term indicates that it is a very finely grained gesso that lent itself to carving, as opposed to a molded relief. The recently rediscovered microcarver Jean-Antoine Boichard (1723–1802) exhibited what were probably very similar reliefs in the same medium at the Exposition du Colisée in 1776 described as “a bouquet of flowers in a vase, the whole modeled in talc.”

The present reliefs also relate to the work of Antoine Rascalon (1742–c.1812), a Parisian cabinetmaker, sculptor and specialist of ornamentation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Rascalon worked on the Palais du Justice in Paris in 1781, presented to the king by the architects Moreay and Desmaisons, and in 1784, he sculpted wood carvings on seating furniture intended for the salon d’été at Bellevue for Mesdames, the aunts of the king. From the Revolution, he began to make furniture like his brother, Barthélémy, and several of his works were presented at exhibitions in 1802 and 1806, including harpsichords, tables and chimneys. Afterward he specialized gold engraving on glass and in 1807 was described as “Sculptor and engraver in gold on glass” in submission for the Imperial Garde-Meuble.

A pair of terracotta reliefs representing bouquets of flowers, signed and dated Antoine Rascalon 1812 (sold at Sotheby’s London, 5 July 2001, Lot 95) offer a sound comparative of flower bouquets rendered in intricate naturalism, illustrated in figure 1.

Full research report available on request.